Scholar Category: Homelessness/Poverty

Graciela “Gracie” Leal

Project: Hostile architecture is negatively impacting where and how people experiencing homelessness get to live. My goal is to shift the funding that is put towards this kind of architecture towards resources more beneficial to the impacted people.

Inspiration: Volunteering at food banks has allowed me to see the different kinds of people that are struggling, even within the small town where I come from where I thought everybody was financially stable. It makes me want to help these people live comfortably and safely.

Future Goals: I want to get more funding put towards homeless shelters in Denver or other major resources that they could use day-to-day.

Bemnet Belachew Tefera

Project: Help families and single-parent households battle homelessness by providing workshops that help them learn about technology, resume building, job searching, and provide opportunities to build profiles.


Inspiration: Communities around me that are actively making an effort for social justice inspired me to make a change and help others. Poverty in America has been increasing as of late and communities need as much help as they can get.


Future Plans: I hope that in Fort Collins there will be families and individuals that will be positively affected by my project. I would like to see a drop in the percentage of homeless individuals and help people find housing and jobs.

Mariela Irene Paul

Project: My project works with children experiencing homelessness in the city of Fort Collins. I plan on working with an organization for homelessness, Family Housing Network, as well as CSU student to become mentors and a support system for these children. We will assist the children in the program with school work and do different fun activities to engage with each child.


Inspiration: Key communities at CSU has inspired me to choose my project. During my first year at CSU I had the pleasure to connect with the Family Housing Network through my Key Cluster(Service). Volunteering at this organization made me want to further my contribution by working with the children in homelessness.


Future Plans: Through my project, I hope to involve and educate other CSU students about homelessness. I also hope to accomplish my goal of making the children feel like they are capable of pursuing a higher education and have the support of CSU students throughout their journey called life.

Tara McMurtry

Project: I am partnering with the Sierra Club and Project VOYCE to produce a series of web videos focusing on Globeville/Elyria-Swansea and the I-70 expansion. The videos will engage with the ways in which these northeast Denver neighborhoods have been isolated, neglected, and abused for over a century, and the ways in which residents still make the neighborhood a vibrant, close-knit community.

Inspiration: I was born and raised in the Highland neighborhood of Denver, though I moved away for college and early adulthood. When I moved back in my early 20s, Denver was on the cusp of the current economic and housing boom, and the boom utterly transformed the neighborhood I grew up in. While I’m happy to see my city and my neighborhood thriving, I feel that the intense growth and development left out the low-income, minority folks who lived in Denver before everyone wanted to live in Denver. The I-70 expansion and the impact it will have on Globeville/Elyria-Swansea is a prominent example of this, and I predict it will transform Globeville/Elyria-Swansea in the same way Highland was transformed: the neighborhoods may look cleaner and safer, but they will also be richer and whiter. Meanwhile, the people who lived in these neighborhoods when they were dirty and dangerous will be pushed farther into the literal margins of the city. I am not anti-growth, but I can’t support growth that leaves out poor people and people of color.

Future Plans for Project:I hope that by showing young people, especially youth who are already looked past because of their skin color or social class standing, that their minds are a powerful tool and if they tell themselves “I can” and out in a little hard work, they can accomplish huge things in life! Maybe I will help to inspire the next president of the US 🙂

Kathryn (Kat) Goldberg

Project: I am gathering data and cliff effect stories to be presented to the New Mexico State Legislature this fall and possibly to Mick Mulvaney at a later date.

Inspiration: I was a participant in the anti-poverty program with which I now volunteer. The public policies currently in place make it incredibly difficult to move out of poverty and into financial self-sufficiency.

Future Plans for Project: People in poverty are often invisible members of our society. I want to give them a voice in helping to change public policy and changing the negative public opinion about the impoverished in our communities.

Emmanuel Cooke

Project: I am focused on starting a networking club to help minorities find opportunities.


Inspiration: I saw that my sister and many minorities were having a hard time finding jobs and wanted to build a relationship with students and employers.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to build a bridge between students and employees.

Lisa Marie Fertman

Project: To host 4 dinner/evening events for the Elyria district at Colorado Miners Community Center to improve nutrition of the families residing in this vulnerable area.

Inspiration: I have a deep passion about working with those who are homeless or living in poverty and the behaviors/symptoms that have brought them to this point. I personally can relate to these situations and desire to pay it forward.

Future Plans for Project: To increase physical activity and academics in this community.